Me, Myself and Horseracing…
Before I start I would just like to introduce myself and tell you a little bit about me.
I am a 22 year old conditional jockey living in Middleham (North Yorkshire). I’m originally from a small town called Haddington which is only a stone’s throw away from Edinburgh. Horseracing is my passion and I consider myself very fortunate to make a living from a sport I love.
I hope my weekly column can be of interest and give you an insight if my day to day life, on and off the course! No doubt there will be a few laughs along the way…..
Monday 14th January
If today’s weather is anything to go by then I reckon the more northern racetracks like Newcastle and Haydock may struggle this week. The snow was coming down thick and fast which as you can imagine is far from ideal. With no racing today my plan was to go into Mark Johnston’s for 4 lots then on my way home stop off to school a couple for Andrew Crook. You can’t school on snow as it balls up in the horses hoofs and just wouldn’t be safe for either horse or rider so Andy’s daughter Amy text me to say we were knocking the schooling session on the head. So after Mr Johnston’s my work for the day was done! I got a phone call from the estate agents to say that the keys to our new house were ready to be collected this afternoon, so even if I am quiet racing wise this week no doubt Kelly will keep me busy painting and building those silly flat packs that everything seem to come in nowadays!! Moving house is hard enough at the best of times so hopefully the snow can stay away to make life that little bit easier!!
Tuesday 15th January
As predicted the snow and cold weather is starting to cause some problems. Tomorrow’s meeting at Newcastle was subject to an 8am inspection this morning and as it already had 2″ of snow lying with more forecast it sadly had to be abandoned! It has very much been stop start over the last couple of months and has been near on impossible to pick up any sort of momentum at all. I rode out 4 lots this morning at Mark Johnston’s before heading over to Andrew Crooks to ride another lot out there. They’re hoping to run a few jumpers at Catterick and Wetherby next week so fingers crossed the weather picks up and we can get the ball rolling again. After a quick lunch I went over to mine and Kelly’s new house to crack on with the painting we started yesterday. We were there till 10pm last night and finished around the same time tonight, it’s harder work than I first anticipated it would be! I certainly won’t be starting up my own painter and decorator business when I retire from race riding that’s for sure!!
Wednesday 16th January
With racing abandoned today it was just another day riding out in the bitter elements, temperatures dipped as low as -7 here and I can assure you it feels even colder than that when you’re perched up on the back of a horse. Everyone wears pretty much their whole wardrobe just to try and stay warm; at times it looks like there are a bunch of Michelin men riding out! When I got home I had to quickly transform into a painter and decorator and head over to Catterick and get on with the house. I was met by a lorry full of them wonderful flat packs addressed to us, looks like I’ll be spending the rest of the week putting together a fireplace, coffee table, TV stand and a dining table and chairs. I’m not the best at following instructions (just ask the people I ride for, haha!) so the end result may not be too pretty, but we’ll drive on and give it a try nonetheless!!
Thursday 17th January
Tomorrow’s meeting at Musselbugh was subject to an inspection this morning, to no one’s surprise it was found to be frozen and had to be abandoned, Market Rasen and Ludlow suffered the exact same fate…more meeting lost!! It would be interesting to see just how many rides and how much money the cold or wet weather has cost me over the last few months, I’m quite happy not knowing if I’m being totally honest. I was jocked up today on the Andrew Crook trained Jimmy Brown who has been entered next week at Wetherby. I really hope the weather picks up for then because I’ve been looking forward to getting the leg up on him for a while! I didn’t have time to ride out this morning as we had deliveries due at our house, I drew the short straw and had be there to wait for them. I had plenty to do there to keep me occupied whilst I waited mind you! I don’t think I have ever had to work as hard in my life as much as I have had to this past week!! I have developed a huge amount of respect for painters and decorators that’s for sure!!
Friday 18th January
Haydock’s meeting on Saturday which features the Peter Marsh chase was abandoned this morning due to snow on the track with no significant improvement in the weather expected. I’m very lucky to have Mark Johnston’s on my doorstep because I can keep a solid wage coming in each week. That’s the thing about being a jockey, no racing means no pay and I am sure you would agree no pay is not the way forward!! When I got back in the car I had a picture message from Kelly, it was a picture of a puppy she has been offered by one of her friends. There is no way she will say no so it’s looking like this time next week we will be having a four legged friend join us in our new home! I’ve been flat out in the afternoons at the house all week getting everything sorted and today was no different. I still have a couple flat packs that need putting together but they are a two man job, thankfully though Simon West’s conditional Ryan Clarke very kindly offered me a helping hand which was a massive help, his services only cost me 3 double cheeseburgers, a McFlurry and a coke from McDonalds, after all he is an athlete as you can see from his balanced diet!!
Saturday 19th January
With no racing on today I just rode out 4 lots at Mark Johnston’s as normal before heading back over to our house in Catterick and getting on with things over there, the jobs seem never ending!! All the flat packs are built thankfully but I still had to prime the walls for the decorator before he puts on the wallpaper this evening and finish off one or two bits of painting. We are hoping to be moved in by the middle of next week, I am really looking forward to getting settled in and getting in a bit of a routine, no doubt all the work and time spent will be well worth it in the end.
Sunday 20th January
No rest for the wicked, I was in at Mark Johnston’s again this morning for 4 lots in the bitter cold!! Wetherby’s card on Tuesday was abandoned this morning, I drove past Catterick racecourse this afternoon on my way to Darlington and it is also under a blanket of snow, so it’s looking like they might struggle next week as well…the nightmare continues!! A few of the jump boys have taken full advantage of the weather and gone off skiing for a few days, I’m not that great with heights and would be like bambi on ice on a set of skis so I was more than happy to give that one a very wide swerve!!
Well it’s been a nightmare week for everyone in racing, I read an article the other day titled “The winter that paralyzed racing”; I think that one line sums it up pretty nicely. Let’s just hope it takes a turn for the better very, VERY quickly!!!
Just for a bit of banter and to cheer us all up in these sub-zero temps take a look at one of my favourite videos from last year. Over to you Ruby…
See you all next week and all comments very much appreciated 🙂
All the best – Zander Voy (@Zander_Voy on Twitter)
p.s it seems in this case a jockey DECORATES when the racing is snowed off?! 😉 Ben (NTF)